Friday, August 28, 2015

Been a Good Run, to the Beach

The signs of beach season coming to a close are everywhere it seems.  Wasn't it just yesterday that we made a our first trip of 2015?  It was a last minute trip to Orange Beach the day before good Friday.  Now, here it is, the weekend before Labor Day.  As they say down here, any day is a good day, at the beach!

We had cold days.  We had wet days.  Some were overcast, and others there no clouds to be seen.   Some days rhe wind did not move.  Other days you had to protect your eyes from the stirring sand.

The most frequent smell was that of coconut sun screen being sprayed into the air, only a small portion of it found its intended target.

Our newest beach toy for 2015 has been our Yeti Rambler cup.  This cup is awesome with its ability to keep ice all day long.  Margaritas stay frozen until fully consumed.

We have some new favorite restaurants that were discovered this year.  The best part, not a single chain was among them!

We knew the end was near just by looking at the calendar.  Other signs have been as obvious.  The road down to Gulf Shores was fairly clear.  There was absolutely no wait at the restaurant last night.  The gift and souvenir shops have merchandise marked down 50 to 75 percent off.  Businesses are re-displaying their "now hiring" signs again.

The beaches are no longer crowded.  The high school kids and college students have abandoned this place til next spring.  The most common sighting  on this day was couples with pre-school aged children, and friend girls making one last dash trip to the beach.

College football will be in full swing come next weekend.  Tailgating will soon be the major family activity.

Fear not beach sand and the sound of the surf.  I will not forget you. Reservations for 2016 have been made.  I have already purchased new beach chairs and umbrellas for spring! Thank you for providing my joy and relaxation for the last six months.  I have a lot of life yet to live, and I hope to spend most of it with you!  And the spousal unit, of course.

We have one more day to enjoy this sand and surf before we call it a wrap.  Oh, and there is one.more new restaurant for us to try!

This concludes the beach blogs for this year.  Fear not though, there is always something new and different happening while tailgating.  Can't  wait!  I'll  be seeing  some of you there!  #hobbylobby and #hailstate!

Maroon Alert

Yesterday was supposed to be just an ordinary day of the week.  The Spousal unit has a business meeting in Macon, at the local hospital.  I was the chauffeur for the day, and dropped her off at the appointed time.  With two hours to kill, I decided to make a side trip to the Country Store Bakery, in Brooksville.  These fine ladies have an awesome pastry counter,  and the sooner you get there, the better.

No sooner did I enter the door, and take one look at the pastries, my phone goes off.  The spousal unit's meeting was over sooner than expected  and she was ready to go.

On my way back to Macon to pic her up, I get the following text message from our son Morgan, a senior at MSU:

"There has been a shooting on Campus.  I am fine in ece main office. Morgan called me and she is looked in her classroom in the dark.  We are as safe as we can get and the shooter was last seen heading towards Lee Hall.  Away from both of us. Just FYI. "

The text was received by both of us.  Lots of messages back and forth.   I went to social media to see if it was a topic.  Within a minute of getting Morgan's text, it was all over Facebook!

It turned out to be a lone student with lots of problems and he was deemed an immediate treat to himself and others.  Mississippi State University immediately issued a "Maroon Alert", effectively locking down the entire campus.

 Within 30 minutes, the all clear was issued.  The troubled student was in custody.   No shots fired, and no one hurt.  The alert system was initiated and it worked.

We were within 30 miles of campus, and LaNelle had to have her arms around her baby.  We met at one of our favorite eateries, and we had the longest family hugs that he have had in a long time.

Classes were to resume at 2:00, with tolerances for those too tramatized from the days experience.  

Today is a new day, and life is back to normal, as much as it can be.  Mommas and Daddies have had their chat with their college kids, and the kids have promised to be more aware of their surroundings, mine included.

Mississippi State University did the right thing by issuing the "maroon alert".  The plan worked.  For the most part, students did as they were instructed.  The plan will be reviewed and I'm sure will be tweaked  for the parts that did not go as planned.

As a parent, I am grateful that this plan is in place.  Social media proved that not everything you read is accurate.  Things evolve very quickly, and facts tend to take on lives of their own.

We promised to have group family hugs more frequently,  and for other reasons than a potential tragedy.  Hope you do the same!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

What's Next?

Everybody has one of those neighbors, you know, the most unfriendliest individual that God could find to put next door.  I've  been in my house for 20 years, and mine has been there right with me for 19!

I've never actually had a confrontation with him because everytime I see him outside, he runs back inside.  He has had no problem coming over and raising hell with the Spousal Unit, or our dog sitter when we are out of town.  He retired from government service and I can see why.  Revenge is sweet, and it has always been mine :-).

The dude has these yap dogs that are constantly doing their thing, day in, and day out.  When Henry and the Browns are out, they go over to the fence and give it right back, raising it to a whole nother level!  The neighbor can't  stand it and will make his critters come inside.  Other times I have been know to throw a tbone over the fence after a good gnaw, to give them a treat, and shut them up.  Every now and then, apparently, one of those dogs throws it back over the fence.  Then one day, after I had driven off, the dude knocks on the door, and raises hell with the spousal unit instead of me!

The dude put up a fence long ago, and nature took its course, sprouting sweet gum and other trees next to it.  I have planted several fruit trees near it as well.  Trees on that side of the yard tend to either die or have stunted growth from some kind or "special treatment" coming from the other side.

One day, the Reservoir Patrol knocked on my door. A "neighbor" had reported that I was illegally burning trash in my backyard.   I replied, "nope, no trash burning here!" The officer said he had to inspect, so off the the back yard we went.  No trash fire, just my grill smoking away with ribs, deer sausage, and chicken wings.  I asked him if he needed to take some in as evidence, and he said "no need for that, but that stuff sure looks good!"  I then asked him "and I guess that you can't  tell me that that particular neighbor reported this incident?"  With a chuckle, and a positive nod, he said no, he could not.

When he moved in, he up in a satellite dish in his yard between us, inside that fence of his, of course.  We planted a group of crepe myrtle all along our fence line.  Eventually he had to move his dish over since the crepe myrtle had grown tall enough to interfere with his reception.  I had some volunteer crepe myrtle come up, so I transplanted them further along the fence line.  Guess who has bee having to raise his satellite dish every few year!  Lol!

As we were leaving for our latest roadie trip, I noticed an AT&T service truck next door.  After a little discussion, I learn that he is installing Uverse,  including the cable network!  Damn!  Guess  he ran out of satellite cable!

So, now.  What's next?

Friday, August 21, 2015

30 Years and Beyond

Ok, been married to the spousal unit for over 30 years.  We've lived in two rentals, now on our second home, have had four dogs, one cat, a few fish, and two boys that have reached adulthood.

A lot of water has flowed under the bridge.  Several midlife crisis episodes have been survived, I got my truck and she got her little red sports car.

We survived years of high school band camp, and finally recovered from all the travels with select soccer.  Youngest is in his last year of college, so the life as college student parent tailgater will soon come to an end.  Then what???

We have our slice of heaven already determined, a stretch of sugar white sand called the Florida Pan Handle.  Time sharing gives us four weeks, and that suits us just fine.  I'll always be on the hunt for deals on beach chairs and umbrellas,  and will be continually working on the recipe for the perfect Ziparita.

A bunch of life lessons have been learned in 30 years,  some you share and others folks just have to discover on their own.

You learn to have your own backup  list of possible restaurants to pick from when you ask your spousal unit "where would you like to eat this evening,  dear?"  Females can hesitate on this one sometimes and before you know it, you are dining on quiche and finger sandwiches.

Always use a GPS for navigation.   This tool is a marriage saver.  If you miss a turn, you can always count on the device to say."recalculating!"  I relearned this trick this week when I didn't turn it on during our trip to Nashville.

It's a good idea to make sure you know the color of the day.  When you reach this age, and you separate when you get outletmalled, having on the same colored outfit comes in handy when trying to locate your spousal unit browsing through the clearance racks.

When it comes to birthdays, there are unspoken rules that apply to birthday cakes.  Under no circumstances are you to eat the last piece of her birthday cake, even if it has been on the cake plate for a week.  Do not touch!

When it comes to family matters, it's all about the hens.  They are of the same feather and will always cluck together.  The men, and inlaws have no vote and no say.  Once they have clucked to a decision,  it's full steam ahead.  Just keep you eyes open and your mouth closed and you will survive another family gathering.

When communicating with your children at these family events, it's best to use hand signals or even text each other, even when sitting in close proximity to eat other.  No point giving away your secret plans with a verbal response.

When pumping gas at the local Kroger, never use all of the points on your fillup.  If you do, your ears will be forever ringing with the words "did you use all the points???"

When it comes to your health and welfare, plenty of direct marketing plans and products will enter your household.  Resistance is futile because her friend or relative needed one more participant in their circle of partners.  "Honey this product is the latest rage, and I just have to give it a try!"

Social media is an area where you must tread lightly.  Some spouses don't like to be tagged in your posts, so you might want to use a code name, thus "the spousal unit" was born.  Be careful to change the names and circumstances when telling a yarn from the hood, as some of your friends will think it's them and all of a sudden you are either unfriended or blocked.

When acting as the chauffeur for your better half, remember to keep your thoughts to yourself, and only make suggestions when asked for your opinion.  Listening to conversations between family members my not be good for your health.

Life is an adventure and it should be shared with a partner.  I found one that is a keeper, my best friend, and the love of my life. There will be good times and an occasional bad.  Keep the communication channels open and do things together.  Eventually both of you will look back and laugh at those times together, whatever the outcome.

Our latest adventure together comes to and end today.  But guess what, another picks up tomorrow!

Life is good!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Nashville, Omni Style

One of the side benefits of traveling with the spousal unit to conferences are the accommodations.  This week we are in Nashville, downtown, at the Omni Hotel.  This is one of those fancy hotels were valet parking is the only option.  The Public parking lots are at least several blocks away and the hotel doesn't have its own parking garage.

The lobby is massive, as most are.  Check in is a breeze.  There are 21 floors, and we were lucky enough to get a room on the top floor.  Their are two sets of elevators, with one set that services the middle floors and the other handles the rest.  As in most big cities, the elevator requires a room key to access floors 2 through 21.

The rooms are plush, with beds that surround you in comfort.  the shower is big enough for a party, and the water spray is hot, hard, and steamy.  The view from the 21st floor is awesome.  You very quickly spot the AT&T batman building in the distance.  The glass window does tend to pop and snap as the occasional breeze presses against it.

The cafe was interesting.  They had a very limited lunch menu.  The feature sandwich items included a pimento grilled cheese sandwich and the specialty burger with pimento cheese as the featured ingredient.  The server offered up a basket of biscuits and muffins.  We finally figured out that these treats were hold overs from the breakfast bar from an hour earlier.  A selection of jellies and jams were included to wet your appetite  for the entree sandwich that was on its way.

At the table across the way, I got tickled.  the woman had a fancy bottled water in front of her, and she was dipping pats of butter into the jelly and eating it with her table knife.  I'm  assuming she had already consumed a biscuit or two!

Entering the elevator later in the day  i had one of those moments.  I reached for my key as a young gal entered the door.  As I was pressing my door key on the magnetic reader, the door closed.  The girl began freaking out, "OMG!  Where are floors 5-15!??"  I chuckled, but then noticed the panic in her eyes.  I calmly said "access to those floors are on the other elevators" as I pressed "open".  She quickly said thanks as she dashed out the door.

The Omni is in a great location.  The Country Music Hall of fame is next door and the Bridgestone Arena is across the street.  And, Broadway Ave is just two blocks away.  If you are coming for an event downtown, I highly recommend this.place.

Time to try one of the other eating establishments here then off to the Hall of Fame, the adventure for the day!

Nashville Kats

Yesterday I took a stroll down Broadway Avenue, the home to the Nashville tourist music scene.  It reminded me a little bit of Beale Street in Memphis and the French Quarter in New Orleans.

The first thing you notice is the music in the streets.  The sounds are coming from open door bars and honky tonks, from street corner musicians, and from speakers that are strategically located along your path.

Like the two other locations mentioned above, this street no longer has businesses in operation from years past.  They have been replaced by the bars & honky tonks, eateries, tshirt and souvenir shops, and a few stores selling country leather goods like hats, belts and boots.

The music is like no other.  It's slow, sometimes a bit twangy, but always telling a story.  If you actually listen to it you get some amusing storylines.  Never will forget the first time I heard "my girlfriend fell in love with my tractor!"  Seriously????  Just hope it was a Deere!

 These musicians are obviously in love with their craft.  Almost all have an acoustic guitar hanging off their back.  Of course, you also have the drummer with his sticks, and the electric bass player.

The street corner guy gets up earlier than most so that he can grab his spot so he can be ready for the tourists that will come along with money to be dropped into a cup, bucket or open guitar case. These pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters and occasional dollar make up this musician's lively hood.  It may be enough to cover a meal or two for hopefully a day or two.  They all can play.  They have all learned that they also must be able to sing a song or two.  Some look up at you, hoping.your hand is coming out of your pocket.  Others sing with their eyes closed trying to kill the hunger pain from all those missed meals.  Their dreams of making it big one day faded long ago, but their heart is still in it for the love of their music.

As you walk by the honky tonks around the noon hour, you can get wrapped up in the sounds coming from inside.  One peek inside and you see a group of musicians working the stage in the hopes of eventually being discovered.  It's too early in the day for that to happen, but you have to practice your craft living off the early crowd tip jar til an evening slot opens up.  You notice that even during the lunch hour, all these places have one thing in common.   The folks occupying the tables and bar stools are snacking, but have been consuming beer.  What's a country song without a few empty beer bottles on the table???

I'm not much into this country music scene they have going on up here in Nashville.  No jeans, boots or cowboy hat for me, just baseball cap, shorts and flippers do me just fine.

I'm headed to the Country Music Hall of Fame, which is next to the Omni Hotel.  I figure I'll learn a few things along the way, might even be humming "my girl friend fell in love with my tractor" by the end of the tour!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Lifers

Had the opportunity to have dinner last night with the spousal unit and five of her high school classmates.  We were on our way back from from a day trip and the six, all originally from the Greenwood area decided to meet up in Grenada.  Kinda special for five to go out of their way to meet up with a fellow classmate for a meal and fellowship.

These six are just a few from the Pillow Academy class of 79 that usually gather when several "out of towners" make a visit to the old stomping grounds.  Word spreads and before you know it, their old band is back together for another evening of catch up.

In a matter of minutes the conversations pick up from their last gathering.  Everybody goes down the list:  health is good, kids are fine, car died, new boat already has a hole in it, did you hear about so & so, and what are you going to order?  Some, its all about the grandkids, others have one finishing college, while still others have one just an incoming freshman.  Big laugh about being empty nesters, then chuckles for those who's nest will never be empty for one reason or another.

It was refreshing to be a bystander.  To watch the interaction between these life long friends was my reward for being married to one of these lifer's.  I felt kinda special, being the only "outsider" allowed into the inner circle of this friendship.  I didn't have this growing up, so I soak it up when I get the chance to see it.

Before you knew it, three hours had past.  The plates were cleaned, and the margarita glasses were now empty. No new cures for cancer were found, and politics and current events had been left at the door.  The circle of life for these 79'ers has been completed one more time. .  Today's session was done.  The tab was paid, and goodbyes were said in the parking lot.

I hope I get another opportunity to witness another gathering of these 79'ers, friends for life!